Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Quick Updates

I cannot believe it is the last day of June and I haven't had a chance to post an update since the 15th. So much has been happening, and I apologize for waiting so long to write!

Life has been nuts. I don't have a clue how I'm handling it right now ... and to be frank, I'm not really balancing it well at all. I always considered being busy as a blessing, but being soooo busy might not be as good as I once thought. I've been so stressed I'm getting sick, I haven't slept more than 4 hours a night in three weeks, and the worst part -- OK lets see if I can admit this to the world -- I have now found 9 gray hairs on my head. 9! And there are probably more in back, yikes! I blame it completely 100% on stress, although my mom tends to think it has a bit to do with heredity. Whatever mom, if you want to take the blame be my guest!

However, amidst all of the chaos and sleepless nights, I have been having some fantastic adventures: Of course as you know I advanced in my dance competition and will get to compete in the final round in August for which I've been trying to rehearse as much as possible. In addition to that, I had the opportunity to participate in my home town's "Old Canal Days" parade; I rode a float with local girl scout troops and each girl had her own little tiara -- so cute! I've been to 2 out-of-town weddings with about 5 more to come before my summer is through. It has been wonderful to see people beginning their lives together, and now that I can enjoy the cake without feeling guilty (!) its extra wonderful! I co-hosted the ABC 7 Traffic Jam 5K run in Grant Park, and I played BINGO with adults with disabilities at Bethsham in Palos Heights. I'm planning to move August 1st, so finding a place to live has been lots of fun -- we haven't found anything yet, but I am confident my roommate and I will find our gem eventually! And lastly (almost), I've been trying to be as active as possible in different areas of business to learn as much as I can about my career and being a successful business woman and entrepreneur - tonight I will attend an event in Chicago called "Step Up for Beauty and Brains." And lastly (for real), I've been setting up appointments to instruct women on proper skin care as I had planned, and have been scheduling appointments for myself on how to keep my body healthy and balanced through proper nutrition and exercise. It really has been a crazy load of different activities lately, and I've been learning so much. There really is nothing like learning and networking and having new experiences!!!

OK So now I've got to run, but that was the quick update. I hope to have a more thoroughly composed and more interesting blog post to write in the next few days, but we'll see. I hope everyone has a safe and fantastic holiday weekend!


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Advancing to the Final Dance Round

Saturday night, after many long days of rehearsal with lots of sweat, sore muscles and even a bloody nose or two, Brandon and I rocked the dance floor at the Chicago Theater for the Performing Arts advancing to the next round of competition. I was soooo excited, not only because I tried so hard, but because I really wanted to continue working with Brandon and learn more beautiful dance moves! After failing to reach my goal at Miss USA, this felt wonderful. My face beamed, I could see my mom as happy as could be in the audience, and I was just plain HAPPY. The hard work paid off -- and it was a BLAST. Brandon and I will start rehearsing for the final competition to be held in Chicago on August 7th. I am so so so pumped!! Who knew I could even dance at all, and now here I am advancing to the final round. Wow!

So theeeeen ... this morning I read something in a book that really hit home:
"Most people live and die with their music still unplayed. They never dare to try. Why? Because they lack self-confidence. Women, especially, have so much potential they never tap."

This really got me thinking because all my life, I never would have guessed that I would participate in the Miss USA Pageant. I never thought I'd throw out the first pitch at the Cubs game. I never thought I'd have 4 different business cards at one time, and I never thought I'd be the star in a 'dancing with the stars' competition and get to work with, in my opinion, the best dancer there ever was. Throughout my life I have tried so many things and failed them, but I never stopped exploring new opportunities. But I have to ask -- why women? Why are women the ones that fail to tap into their natural gifts? This really bugs me. I may have 'failed' at Miss USA among other things, but it opened up doors to try so many other avenues I never would have discovered otherwise! I suppose my greatest failures have lead me to my greatest adventures. Try and try again, as they say -- its worth it!

It has been said, "We fail forward to success. We learn from our failures. The person who never fails never attempts anything." I think getting back up when you're down and trying again is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Not only to experience all of the amazing things life has to offer, but also to give yourself a new thrill every now and then -- to have something for which to strive, something to be excited for, and something to dream about.

OK I'm done being a philosopher for now ... but think about it. Have you explored your inner gifts? If not, you should. YOU CAN DO ANYTHING if you put your mind to it.

Friday, June 11, 2010

BlackHawk Fever!

Chicago is a madhouse! I took an early train in today because we were supposed to have an early meeting at 9, and although the meeting totally didn't start yet I'm glad I came early because it is CRAZY on the streets!

The reason it is nuts is because there is a parade today celebrating the Chicago Blackhawk's win Wednesday night when they took home the Stanley Cup. The streets are totally painted red with people and their clothing and banners supporting the Hawks. Even the fountain at Daley Plaza is dyed red!

There are police and barricades along the path of the parade. The event doesn't start until 10:30am, but when I walked through around 8am and it was packed. I can't imagine what it's like right now at 9:30!

This is a very exciting day for Chicago Hawk's fans. I can hear sirens going off constantly from my office and I wonder if its for emergencies or just crowd control and excitement. Looking out my window now, you can't even see the sidewalks -- its all just people in red. So exciting!!


Thursday, June 10, 2010

An Explanation on the New Business Venture

Recently, a close friend wrote me an email in response to something I had posted on my blog a few days back. It made me wonder if others were feeling the same way ... so I have decided to address his concerns publicly.

He wrote:
"I happened upon your blog today, where after reading about refreshingly strange hair dreams that felt out of sync with the previous gauntlet of pageant preparations, I found this:

'I have decided to use the skills I gained while preparing for Miss Illinois USA and Miss USA to influence and help other women. However, I am going to take it slowly. If there is anything I have learned through all of this, it is that rushing things just causes you to do it at a lower quality than you should. I want to do this right, and slowly but surely, I think I will.'

Which felt like pure concentrate wisdom bubbling with well-adjusted purpose. But then my admiration was ... murdered?

'So what is my new goal that is going to help other women? I am going to sell make-up! LOL!'

Most of the time I make it my mission to outrageously support you, even twist my ethics a bit to explore dimensions of thought and ways of being that I find uncouth, but tonight I'm going to nix the sideshow and ask:

Are you certain selling make-up is going to lead to women's empowerment? Should (can) confidence come in products? Wouldn't you say, be better positioned to teach people how to exercise to tone their body in a healthy way or eat right instead of hide/amplify/alter what they actually look like for a cultural construction of beauty that keeps them enslaved to consumerism, objectification and emphasis on, what, at the end of the day doesn't matter that much?"

Reading this message naturally caused me to become a bit defensive. I was even a little angered, and didn't know what to think. My gut was saying, “How could he, a friend, not even a stranger, have perceived your words like that? Doesn’t he see the humor in my remarks?” I must come off differently via typing that I do via personal interactions. However, I have gone ahead and let this comment "bake" for a few days. Now ... I think I'm ready to answer his question. You see, sadly for me, he was right in much that he said. However, the problem is that I explained my motives poorly under the pure assumption that people would understand what I was thinking without a proper explanation. I caused a reader (and a friend) to misunderstand my thoughts and in turn think negatively of my intentions and actions. This is a serious thing that needs to be addressed, and I hope to do so now.

First of all, I feel that a woman's empowerment and confidence comes from a multitude of different areas. It’s unique for every woman, but for me ... I am confident when I am feeling at my best. That means my best physically, emotionally, and mentally among other elements. It's simple really -- when I look good, I feel good. When I am in a good mood emotionally, it radiates and attracts the good moods of others creating positive energy. When I am mentally in the right place I am able to take charge of myself and my surroundings, making the best of it. Those three parts create a confident woman who is happy. But that is what works for me. Other women, perhaps, work differently. However, it has been my observation that over all, women DO feel the most confident when they are happy with their appearance. This may be the driving force behind the media and displays of "perfect" looking woman achieving fame, success, beauty and love ... but nevertheless it is a feeling many women cannot avoid.

Sure, I could teach people how to "exercise to tone their body in a healthy way or eat right instead of hide/amplify/alter what they actually look like [through make-up] ..." However, I somehow feel that it is almost on the same level of insult.

Now, my intention for selling make-up is not truly just that as it sounds. My intention was to take the skills and lessons I have learned as Miss Illinois USA to bring confidence to other women. You see, before being crowned Miss Illinois USA I didn't wear much make-up. I also didn't wear jewelry, my nails were rarely manicured let alone colored and my hair was often thrown into a bun on top of my head. If you can picture this you will see a very casual girl and not the "typical" image of a beauty queen. Gaining the title of Miss Illinois USA offered me the opportunity to rethink those attributes. I was never forced, never asked, or never influenced to take hold of my appearance, but I found that as I went to different events and met various people I just felt a lot more confident and outgoing when I knew I looked my best. Maybe that is how this style and, may I say, stereotype of beauty queens came to be -- through women trying to gain confidence by looking and feeling their best.

Thinking of this early on, I wondered how I could be certain to feel as confident as possible at the Miss USA Pageant. I did my research and found some people to help me. I took lessons in walking, interviewing, applying make-up, doing hair, and more. I worked with people on developing a professional and attractive wardrobe. I worked with others on health and nutrition, as well as sculpting and leaning out my body. And still I worked with others on ‘working a room’ and creating random (but insightful) conversation with strangers. I learned to look, be, and feeeeeeeel like a confident and impressive woman ... and I liked it.

Now -- when thinking of a way to develop a NEW GOAL for myself, keeping in mind that I sincerely desire to earn additional income, I came up with a solution I thought was quite perfect. I could combine the skills I have learned, practiced and developed with the things I truly care about, while earning a living that might possibly put me in a financial position that is better than the one I'm in now. As different opportunities came and went, the one that stuck out the most was the opportunity to begin my own business selling skin care products including make-up, and instructing on application. Although this isn't something I ever thought I'd do, it has recently become attractive to me for many reasons:

1. It brings people together. I am itching for an opportunity to speak, network with, and get to know more people. I love one-on-one engagements with people, as well as the fact that you truly can make an impact on another person's life through something as simple as conversation. This new business venture provides me with the opportunity to do that.
2. It helps me help women feel confident. I have learned so much over the past year and have developed immensely. If I can turn myself from a roll-out-of-bed slug to a hey-look-at-me diva who has the world at her fingertips, why can't I educate others in taking a similar approach to embracing their inner [powerful and confident] woman? I would love the opportunity to show people the things I've learned. This new business venture provides me with the opportunity to do that.
3. It helps me develop myself as a business professional while earning extra income. Unfortunately, the idea of providing women with skin-care and make-up lessons did come with a bit of selfishness in the sense that I have tried different ways of earning additional income with little success, and truly require an increase to reach further goals of mine. The sales woman in me got excited about the possibility of marketing my knowledge and skills to yes, better the lives of others, but also ... to better my own life.

When considering my alternative options and/or interests (teaching piano lessons again, working at a gym, or further developing my freelance web-design business), sales seems like my best bet. The fact that I could do sales for products I have spent the last year getting to know inside and out and learning to love was just a bonus. I think this business venture may be good because although it may not necessarily be the thing I am the "best" at, but it is something I'm interested in, something I feel I could excel at, and something that is flexible enough to work with my extremely chaotic schedule. Another bonus! With the opportunity being dangled in front of me like a bone to a dog, I jumped at it. If it turns out to be no more than another business venture gone sour, so be it. But if it ends up being a move that helps me and others to feel good -- great!

It is disappointing to know that my ideas are not always supported, but I believe this is just part of life. I have come to learn that I can never please everyone, as hard as I may try. My dad used to tell me a metaphor that goes: "Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains." It means that sometimes things go great and sometimes they don't, but its all part of the game. You just have to keep playing!! Well, this is what I'm doing and I'm VERY excited about it. I have big plans to make my newest venture my best yet. I know it will be as successful and as rewarding as I make it, and although it would be easier with the support of others, a lack of support will not distract me. For any confident woman, it is important to keep your eye on your goals and never give up. This is another stepping stone toward an ultimate goal I have every intent on achieving.

And that's all she wrote! Comments welcomed and encouraged.

Monday, June 7, 2010

A Weekend of Fun Events

Things really got exciting this past weekend. First, on Saturday … my dance partner and I rehearsed for the local dancing with the stars competition over and over and over. It got to be soooo much fun once we started getting the moves with the music. Its so nice to have our choreography come together with the song and I just can’t wait to get on stage this Saturday! We’re doing a salsa/rumba dance to a piece by the Four Seasons. It’s so sexy and sensual, but so fun and exciting. I think it’s really going to get the crowd going … but may make my boyfriend a bit nervous, haha. Brandon (my dance partner) has really helped me to feel my body with the music. He is teaching me how to expose my sexuality with dance, and to capture the moment in a captivating and sensual way that will excite the audience. I never thought to utilize my body this way with dancing, and it’s has been a truly amazing new experience. But truly, my boyfriend has nothing to be nervous about – he’s going to loooove our dance so much he’s going to want to become a dancer himself!

On Sunday, I attended an event for Athletes Against Drugs held by Stedman Graham. I was instantly thrust into a room jam packed with celebrities and loved every moment of it. The event was amazing, but sadly, I’m so bad at knowing celebrities I really didn’t even know who the heck I was meeting – what a waste of a ticket on me!! At one point I was talking to a group of really huge men and was thinking to myself, “Oh geez, this is probably the whole starting line of the Chicago Bears and I don’t even know it!” I didn’t know who Stedman Graham was either at first, and when Oprah walked in I was like, “Err, whoops!” I met one of the members of Destiny’s Child, an actor who is up and coming in a bunch of hit television series, the head honchos of many major organizations such as FedEx, Sara Lee and more, and my all time favorite … Mr. Jim Oberweis, founder and owner of Oberweis Dairy. I actually sat next to him for dinner which is why I’m so excited about it. Number one, the man specializes in ice cream – is there anything not to love about that? And number two, he is about to take a trip abroad with his wife in which he will spend a few days in Rome. Between ice cream and Rome, I don’t think there is much else in my life that I just truly, truly love with all my heart. This man made my whole night, and he was such a nice person too. He gave me a pass for free ice cream at Oberweis!! I mean, that was a deal maker. Mr. Oberweis – you’re da man.

OK but for those of you who don't know ... here's a little bit of history of Athletes Against Drugs. AAD is an organization of athletes, celebrities, and corporate leaders whose goals are to educate youth in making good (and healthy) life choices. Their goal is to allow drug-free athletes to influence and become positive role-models for children. Athletes Against Drugs offers great alternatives to drugs including events and activities that will help children become part of a team, or reach a personal goal – something that will get them off the street and away from drugs. It is such a wonderful cause that I am thrilled I had the chance to be a part of. I am excited to know how strong and large of a support system they have with athletes, celebrities and corporate leaders. If it can get me excited, I’m sure it can definitely get kids excited and hopefully help to point them down the right path.

Well, that’s a wrap of the weekend. It was a good one … but this coming weekend will be fun too when I get to “dance with the stars!” I can’t wait!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Strange Dream

I had a strange dream last night.

I dreamt that I had soooo many hair extensions, and therefore my hair was just humongous. I was in the shower shampooing it all, and suddenly it all just started falling out. I pulled clumps and clumps of hair extensions out of my hair, but I was OK with it because I knew there was so much left I wouldn't miss anything. When I got out of the shower I looked in the mirror to see pieces of mold in different mushroom-like shapes growing out of the hair that had been underneath the extensions! It seems that I had so much hair that the under-hair had never fully dried after washing it all that time, and was growing mold. Now that all of the extensions fell out I saw the mold and knew something had to be done. However, the mold was everywhere do I ended up shaving my head completely!!

Weird dream. And who knows where that craziness came from. Maybe I fell asleep thinking about new hairstyles ... although, I don't think I'm ready to shave my head just yet. =P

Random, but I hope you enjoy my dreamy madness! I wonder if hair really can grow mold if it doesn't dry for weeks and weeks. Maybe next time I get a hair cut I'll throw some in a plastic bag and find out. Err, OK this is getting a bit strange now. Maybe I won't do that. =)

New Goals

I have been itching for something interesting to blog about since my last post was well over a week ago -- for days I didn't think I had much to tell. I guess I just couldn't come up with something clever ... although it may have been a reflection of my attitude, which had been floating down into the dumps of self-pity since returning from the Miss USA competition. After all, it is such a difficult realization to work hours every day, focusing toward a goal you want so badly, just to have it end in the blink of an eye. Returning home, my life was still there and all the wonderful things that accompany it, but there was some large piece just missing.

Over the past week I have been trying to figure out the root of all of my blue moods. I think I just needed something to strive for -- a new goal if you will. So I found one! I have decided to use the skills I gained while preparing for Miss Illinois USA and Miss USA to influence and help other women. However, I am going to take it slowly. If there is anything I have learned through all of this, it is that rushing things just causes you to do it at a lower quality than you should. I want to do this right, and slowly but surely, I think I will.

So what is my new goal that is going to help other women? I am going to sell make-up! LOL! I have taken three excellent make-up lessons from two professional artists in Chicago as well as one artist in Houston. I have also received many free products to try, tips from the experts, have made fabulous contacts in the beauty industry, and have had plenty of events and reasons to practice on myself and my friends. I feel that if me, the girl who didn't know what to do with a stick of liquid eye-liner a little over a year ago, can utilize make-up to help build my confidence as a young woman ... then anyone can. And I want to help them! Literally, I wouldn't have been caught dead using false eyelashes in 2008, and last month I was asked to do make-up for two girls for their prom. WHERE did this talent come from?! I don't know, but I like it!

So as a bit of self promotion I will let you know ... if anyone would like to take a make-up lesson utilizing the products I have found to work well and that have proven themselves to me, please let me know. I am planning to host a few get togethers in the coming months, particularly for the girls who are preparing to compete in the Miss Illinois USA competition in November.

I'm so excited for my new venture, and I'm glad to have a new goal. Not only do goals give us something to be excited about, but they give us a reason to get up in the morning and work hard! They give us the push we need to be excited and energized about our talents and opportunities, and boy oh boy, I sure am excited and energized. I'm so glad to be out of my rut!!

Happy Friday ladies and gents. It's going to be a beautiful day!